Sunday 24th May 2009
I can't believe that I am writing yet another blog from Male and this time in gale force winds in a completely unprotected anchorage.....it has been a long week!!
We moved last week for a couple of nights into a small lagoon on the industrial site island, Thilafushi, where Hassan is building his safari boat because the weather was so rough and we were fed up with being up and down all night to watch the anchors and swinging wildly around in winds gusting up to 30knots. The area was not big enough to anchor so had many men swimming around the boat putting out 4 lines to the front and 2 lines plus anchor off the back all tied around steel poles hammered into the sand....all very concerned for Muneera's safety! So we sat very tight for 2 nights as the winds howled around us and stomped to and fro the mainland ferry through lots of mud and mess. With the generator finally fixed, we were then given permission to enter a working harbour on Friday as there were no other supply boats around at lunchtime after prayers and the mechanics worked until dark reinstalling the generator. At this point we did not want to move anywhere due to the danger of navigating these waters at night and the foul weather so managed to sweet talk the harbour authorities into allowing us to stay alongside until sun up. Thinking all was fine and that we would get to bed for an early start the next day, somehow word got out to the coast guard and customs and at 1am in the morning they eventually evicted us out with a small pilot boat to bring us back to our original anchorage at Hulamale Island which is the only place where foreign registered boats apparently are allowed to anchor in Male. This country is still so bound up with its previous rulers governance and paranoia with foreigners - we felt like we were back in Africa except that a backhander was not likely to work and with a crowd of people dockside, including poor Hussan who was dragged down to try and sort it out, it was somewhat of a circus and great entertainment for all those milling around. Ishmail our trusty mechanic came again to Muneera yesterday to check all was OK and also to service the engine and was meant to come back today to finish this job off. Well overnight the weather took a turn for the worst and we have been fighting 40 knot plus gale force winds ever since. It was a very long night and today the wind and rain has not abated and has been all pretty stressful with alot of boats around trying to manoeuvre and get more anchors out. All the ferry services have been cancelled and we feel somewhat islolated and trapped knowing that it would be dangerous to have to weigh anchor at this point. This being said, there are alot of others in the same boat and everyone is watching out for everyone else so feel certain there would be help at hand if needed – we hailed some guys over this morning to help us lay a third anchor out front using their dinghy. So it would seem our run of ‘paradise weather’ has ended for the time being and would be very grumpy if we had paid the thousands that the clients on these safari boats will have paid to sit here with no diving or surfing! We can do nothing but sit it out and hope there is some respite soon.
In between all of this waiting for the generator and bad weather, last week we stumbled upon the National Art Gallery and into an amazing exhibition of local artist Eagan Badeeu. We spent a great couple of hours admiring his amazing art and chose a painting to remind us of our time in the Maldives which will be sent home for us. Eagan is a wonderful guy and it was great to be able to spend time with him the following day when he visited us dockside We will have been in Male for 2 weeks by tomorrow and certainly feel we know the place well! We will now need to contact the BIOT (British Indian Ocean Territories) authority to change the dates for our Chagos permit as are now 2 weeks behind plans and don't want to lose any of our month long permit down there...........the joys of travelling!!